ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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‘Spiral of Silence’ in Indian Media?

Many in the Indian media with critical views of the government are increasingly choosing to be silent due to the fear of isolation.

Over the past year and a half, bulldozers have become hyper-visible in the Indian news media landscape. The state machinery’s use of the bulldozer, particularly in states like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi, has put it at the centre of Indian political and media discourses. The hardy earth-moving machine has emerged as a symbol of repressive action against those seen to be flouting the law. Many political and civil society leaders have slammed it as an act of political vendetta against the marginalised and mino­rity sections of our society. Independent news organisation The Wire notes that between January 2021 and March 2022, the national and various state governments destroyed more than 60,000 homes, the majority of which belonged to low-income families. In New Delhi, while the Bharatiya Janata Party-led civic body maintained that only illegal shops and constructions were bulldozed, the owners of these properties—mostly small stalls, kiosks, handcarts, and shops—said the move was politically and communally driven, targeting Muslims. Such acts by any ruling dispensation can be read as a violation of the right to property act under Article 300A.

During all such “demolition drives” carried out by governments, the most astonishing factor was the response of the mainstream media, especially the national television news channels. Many television journalists covered the demolition activities as if it was a matter of festivity. In Delhi, in April 2022, one of the famed news anchors from a television channel rode one of the bulldozers and asked the operator as to why he did not demolish the entire structure of a juice corner and only razed the lintel. Another editor of one of the most watched English news channels tweeted, “Dramatic increase in demand for bulldozers. Are we increasing domestic capacity for manufacturing, or will we have to depend on imports?? #JustAsking” with emojis of laughter at the end. Other television news channels broadcast live coverage of their reporters running after the bulldozers, asking questions to their operators and screaming to “inform” the viewers about the movements of the machines amid all the noises. Further, news broadcasts and related programmes were given titles that glorified the bulldozer as a tool to curb communal violence and punish the culprits: Bulldozer se rukenge dange? (Will the bulldozers stop riots?), Dangayion ka ilaaj bulldozer? (Rioters could be dealt with bulldozers?), Danga karoge to bulldozer chalega! (If you riot, you have to face bulldozers!), etc.

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Updated On : 23rd Oct, 2022
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